I ate negative calorie food for a week and didn’t even lose weight
Seriously, don’t bother
Weathermen are getting excited. All available spaces of grass are being lounged on. Burgers are half price. This can only mean one thing – summer is coming.
While the sun is nice, it made me realise all too soon I may have to deal with the Christmas weight I’ve been carefully ignoring since January.
I’ve never really believed in fad diets, but when we were predicted another week of sunshine I felt compelled to act. My solution? The so-called negative calorie diet.
To explain, a negative calorie diet is based on the idea of you only eating food which require more energy to digest than they provide. Supposedly, you can eat as much as you want, because your body will be automatically burning it all off anyway.
I thought it sounded great, but it was the blandest week of my life.
I start out optimistic on Tuesday morning, getting up early and hitting my local Sainsbury’s with a spring in my step and an (admittedly limited) list in my hand.
Shopping doesn’t take very long, because, as I soon found out, all negative calorie foods are either fruits or vegetables.
A quick Google reveals conflicting accounts of what was and wasn’t “negative calorie”, but even relying on trusty ol’ Wikipedia, I was still restricted to pretty much one aisle.
But I’m still in high spirits as I come home and whip up a fruit salad breakfast of apples and strawberries.
With green tea – one of only a few drinks allowed on the diet – on the side, it is shaping up to be the healthiest morning I’ve ever had at university.
This initial optimism fades somewhat when, a mere hour after breakfast, I am hungry again. How has this happened? Then I remember the mound of coco-pops I normally consume each morning is probably a lot more filling than the bowl of fruit I have opted for today.
A couple of hours and about 200 words of my essay later, I decide it’s time for an early lunch: orange juice (admittedly from concentrate) and a salad of tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber.
By mid afternoon my stomach is growling and I’m wondering what I’ve got myself into.
I gnaw on some celery for a snack and decide it’s disgusting. Eventually I realise it needs to be smothered in something yummy and sacrifice my journalistic integrity for some peanut butter.
Ah yes, much better.
Dinner is kale, made crispy in the oven and seasoned with salt. Surprisingly nice, I must admit.
The day doesn’t start well. I’m already hungry as soon as I wake up. It’s my friends birthday and while she makes pancakes I make a painful sacrifice, and eat blueberries instead.
Lunch is the same salad as yesterday with lemon juice as a dressing and more green tea.
I’m starting to get a headache and wonder if it’s as a result of cutting down my food intake by about two thirds. I’m also not feeling any immediate slimming effects and actually feel pretty bloated.
The cravings also start today – chicken pasties smothered in grease, cupcakes with piles of icing, loaves of freshly baked bread. Basically any carbs.
For dinner I attempt to make stir-fried broccoli according to a friend’s recipe and burn it horrifically. Still, it’s hot and doesn’t taste too bad.
The lack of carbs means alcohol now has a profound effect on me – one stein in Bierkeller last night and I was white-girl wasted.
My sad negative calorie breakfast of melon, apple and raspberries didn’t do much to alleviate my hangover.
Come lunch I couldn’t even face eating and had a nap to distract myself.
In the afternoon my friends suggested a trip to Love Rouge cafe, normally a sure-fire route to making a crappy day much better. But while they gorged on calorific cupcakes all I could have was some cranberry juice.
The headaches come back, along with a cold and a cough and a constant state of self pity. While making another boring dinner of kale crisps and more burnt stir fried broccoli I get the strongest cravings I’ve ever had in my life.
I chew on broccoli, dreaming of burgers and roast chicken and worrying I may be on the brink of madness.
Only four more days. It can’t get much worse, right?
Today’s breakfast is melon, apple and strawberries followed by a green salad with tomatoes.
Feeling rather full afterwards, I (stupidly) agree to go to an aqua class at the gym with a friend. During the class itself I feel fine as it isn’t anything particularly strenuous, but afterwards I am physically exhausted.
I have stomach pains and am shaking slightly, drooling over the sandwiches as we walk past Bakery 164 on the way home. When we’re finally at home and I’m glumly eating fruit, I finally give in to my friends’ temptations and let them convince me to eat some bread.
I devour the carbohydrates and immediately bloat. Fruit for dinner and then yet another nap.
I attempt to take on Fruity later on but leave early because my stomach pains come back and I’m too tired to face the crowds. I’m starting to wonder if this diet is really worth it…
After spending most of my time this week sleeping and feeling crappy, by Saturday I realise I need to do all the work I’ve ignored over Easter.
Heading to the library after a breakfast of green tea and half an apple, I pack the leftover fruit in my fridge for lunch – strawberries, raspberries and half a cucumber.
The glare of the lights in Eddy B’s basement aggravate my short temper and my headache, and after only a few hours of work I head back home to get back into bed.
As I decide what to eat for dinner I have a sudden burst of energy and go as far as Sainsbury’s local to get asparagus and more salad. I decide I’m being a drama queen about this and I need to just get on with it. Besides, there’s only two days left.
Since I started this diet I’ve been feeling achy, lazy and moany. So when I wake up on Sunday morning feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck, I’m almost not surprised.
I crawl out of bed when my mom arrives around midday and try to act light-hearted but she sees straight through it. My eyes are straining, I can’t pay attention to what she’s saying and my food cravings are making me feel like Alex the lion from Madagascar.
After some melon and pineapple for breakfast, yet ANOTHER salad for lunch and some green tea and fruit for dinner, I desperately weigh myself as part of some last-ditch attempt to justify the diet.
After six days, I weigh exactly the same as when I started. I can’t believe it.
After getting over my initial shock, I finally give in. Tomorrow I shall feast.
Suddenly filled with excitement, I get over my initial disappointment I haven’t managed a simple week and dream of steak and chips. The heart wants what it wants, what can I say?
With no lectures, and the ordeal finally over, I treat myself to a pub lunch and happily wolf down a cheese and bacon beef burger with chips and extra BBQ sauce.
I add a sundae on top and feel more awake and happier than I have in days.
I had so wanted to get through this week without making a big fuss. Part of me has always been sceptical of fad diets, but deep down another part really did think this might be the magical solution.
I was prepared to be a bit hungry, to crave certain foods or even to feel a bit weaker than normal, but I believed there would be results to justify my sacrifices.
I had in no way realised instead the diet would turn me into a moaning, bloated, lazy wreck who couldn’t face getting out of bed in the morning.
The moral of the story then? Next time you consider doing a ridiculous diet and taking the easy way out, just take the even easier way and eat a goddamn burger.